In the realm of modern logistics, the efficiency and reliability of warehouses, both for cold storage and ambient facilities, play a pivotal role in maintaining the quality and safety of perishable dairy products. The demand for robust storage solutions continues to surge, driving innovation in the sector.

There are a number of advancements in technology that are reshaping the landscape of warehousing. Automation, supply chain transparency and predictive analytics are helping processors work more efficiently with smaller workforces.

A well designed and efficiently operated warehouse has several key features that make it a critical component of the supply chain for temperature sensitive products.

Understanding these elements can help businesses select the right cold storage warehousing partner and ensure their products are safely and adequately stored.



One of the most significant developments in warehousing is the integration of automation and robotics. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and robotic arms have streamlined operations, reducing human error and optimizing workflow. These robotic systems can efficiently navigate through narrow aisles, picking and placing items with precision. Moreover, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning enable these machines to adapt to changing conditions, enhancing efficiency and productivity.

In response to labor shortages and the surge in e-commerce, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are increasingly adopting warehouse automation solutions, as highlighted in a report by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

PMMI’s Packaging and Automation in the Warehouses of the Future report revealed that the complexities arising from rising e-commerce and direct-to-consumer demands are driving the need for mixed and layered pallets in warehousing and fulfilment operations.

The PMMI report indicates a significant shift towards warehouse automation solutions, including palletizers and mobile robots. Projections show that more than one in four warehouses will have some form of automation by 2027, compared to 14% in 2017 and 18% at the end of 2021. Despite these advancements, less than 20% of CPG firms currently operate mostly automated warehouses, with very few reporting full automation.

According to another PMMI report, the lack of available labor was identified as the most immediate challenge in 2022. Some companies faced the choice of automating production lines or halting production altogether. Recognizing the need for flexibility, CPG firms are increasingly opting for a strategic and adaptable approach to automation.

PMMI also identified that many CPG warehouses are still highly manual and often operating from outdated buildings with unsuitable layouts, causing bottlenecks.

Cimcorp North America, Grimsby, Ontario, helps companies optimize material flows and has developed robotic solutions for order fulfillment and storage for food and beverage companies. Such suppliers recognize that dairy processors are fighting an ongoing battle when it comes to the industry’s available workforce.

“The labor shortage issue in the US warehousing industry is exacerbated in the dairy industry, as many dairy warehouses are operating six days per week and at least two shifts a day,” said Derek Rickard, director of sales, Cimcorp. “Finding labor to work non-regular hours in a cooler environment is extremely challenging. To add to that a relatively fresh product like dairy goods, delivery turnaround times are short, which means warehouses need consistency, traceability and order accuracy.”

As a global system integrator, Cimcorp improves its customers’ profitability by offering solutions for automation that run with easy-to-use software and are backed by lifetime services that ensure success.

“Automated equipment like conveyors and robotics can take control of the product, starting from the exit of the filling lines, and track and trace the product all the way through storage, picking, palletising, labeling and trailer loading,” Rickard said.

When selecting a vendor partner to aid in implementing automation solutions for warehouses, Rickard said dairy processors need to take overall experience in the industry into account, as well as utilizing an end-to-end systems integrator, warehouse management system (WMS) integrability, and experience with sanitation within a dairy cooler.

cheese storage cold warehouse operations supply chain dairy industryPhoto: Ivan Traimak -


With consumers increasingly demanding transparency and traceability in the supply chain, companies are leveraging certain warehouse technologies to provide end-to-end visibility.

By recording every transaction and movement, companies can ensure the integrity and authenticity of data, enhancing trust and accountability throughout the cold chain. From farm to fork, stakeholders can easily track the journey of perishable goods, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and quality assurance protocols.

Americold, Atlanta, a leader in temperature-controlled logistics, can integrate its supply chain management systems with a customer’s ERP system, allowing for a seamless and timely flow of information. They also offer the i-3PL Supply Chain Control system dashboard, which aims to drive greater operations efficiencies by providing real-time information on orders, inventory, schedules and KPIs, through any web-connected smart phone, tablet or computer.

“At Americold, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to create value for our large global customers,” said George Chappelle, chief executive officer at Americold. Currently, Americold owns and/or operates 243 temperature-controlled warehouses, with approximately 1.5 billion refrigerated cubic feet of storage, in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and South America.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized warehouse management by enabling real-time monitoring and control of critical parameters such as temperature, humidity and air quality. IoT sensors embedded throughout the warehouse continuously collect data, allowing operators to remotely monitor conditions and promptly address any deviations. This proactive approach not only safeguards the integrity of stored goods but also minimizes the risk of costly spoilage incidents.

Additionally, as sustainability has become a focal point for the dairy industry, transparency in sustainability of warehousing operations is no exception. Innovations in energy-efficient refrigeration systems and insulation materials have significantly reduced the environmental footprint of these facilities.

Companies are prioritizing eco-friendly practices, such as the use of alternative fuels, electric vehicles and renewable energy sources, to reduce carbon emissions and minimize the environmental impact of their operations. This includes using vendors that are also prioritizing sustainable practices.

In 2022, United States Cold Storage, Camden, NJ, a cold logistics and transportation services company, launched the Green Team, a sustainability strategy. The goal is to encourage sustainability within by fostering a culture of environmental responsibility and implementing practices that reduce environmental impact.

“The commitment made by US Cold to achieve SBTi Net Zero Standard is a testament to our dedication to a greener more sustainable cold chain,” said Sara Cook, sustainable development manager, US Cold Storage.


Inventory management

Leveraging big data analytics and predictive algorithms, companies can anticipate demand patterns and optimize inventory management within their warehouse operations.

By analyzing historical data and external factors such as weather forecasts and market trends, predictive analytics models can forecast future demand with remarkable accuracy. This foresight enables warehouse operators to proactively adjust inventory levels, minimize stockouts and optimize storage space utilization, ultimately improving operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Efficient inventory management is critical to maintaining product quality and minimizing waste. Top-tier refrigerated cold storage facilities should have a robust inventory management system, ensuring every product is accounted for, properly located and managed efficiently.

Such a system would include advanced tracking capabilities using RFID or barcode scanning technologies. It would also enable real-time visibility into the inventory, allowing for prompt decision-making and effective forecasting. Besides, it should provide insights into the shelf life of products to manage goods on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) basis, minimizing the risk of product spoilage.

The advancements in warehouse technologies are revolutionizing the way perishable goods are stored, managed and distributed. From automation and sustainability to transparency and predictive analytics, these innovations are not only enhancing operational efficiency but also ensuring the quality, safety and integrity of dairy products.

As the demand for optimal storage continues to grow, so too will the pace of innovation, driving the industry toward a future of even greater efficiency and sustainability.